Positions

• 08-12-21 •

Tent: on a sketch by Gwen John

My living room is not laid out for visitors, I realise as my friend sits down, having sprung a visit on me to collect a book for an exhibition. A visit I can’t refuse. I’m always hauling the chair round when S comes over to watch a film, I know the chair is not in the right place. She sits opposite, I take the sofa, feels like therapy. Not long after mum died I ran into this friend at the ICA, a live listening event, I cried then too, in a small dark room, soundtrack of rain pattering the roof, beat, smudged, Life on Mars.

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• 05-11-21 •

OUT OF THE BLUE: BRUCE BAILLIE’S ALL MY LIFE (1966)

Baillie made All My Life in 1966, while he was passing through Caspar, a tiny place in Mendocino County, a couple of hours drive north from San Francisco. Apparently he saw the fence by chance and looked at it for a bit and was about to leave, before saying, heroically, epigrammatically, “No, I cannot turn my back on this.” The fence is somewhere in particular, but it is also nowhere—or, more precisely—it’s everywhere in California. Wherever you go in that state—you can be walking past an abandoned scrub of ground somewhere downtown in a city—you will be shocked by a burst of bold colour, as orange and yellow poppies force their way up through tarmac.

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• 05-10-21 •

Dora Garcia’s Sphinx

I’m asked to cat-walk the shit out of it”, to re-interpret Dora Garcia’s text with this body, imprinted/implanted with certain sex-gendered attributes that, by way of the intersection of voice, eye contact and body, produce specific affects. The borrowed, stolen and instrumentalised work of my body makes Garcia’s work possible, like wearing a mask and making that mask come alive, except my face is fully visible and so I am fully visible, as usual, I might admit, bearing for my entire life visibility as blessing and as curse.

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• 05-10-21 •

The Black Objects: For Leonora Carrington

I am being held in a room for the refused. I am holding a decanter and a dahlia, the twin weights of justice. I’m dreaming vainly of a white horse. I talk to it by touching. My right eye peers over the hill, while my left spies a tiny she-hyena.

I have been swallowing lemons whole.

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• 22-07-21 •

The Foreign Connection

Jamie McKendrick’s recent book of essays, is the culmination of thirty-five years of writing on poetry, art and translation. It contains sixty-six essays which ‘journey through three different languages, over a millennium and a half’ and includes writings on figures from Catullus to Elizabeth Bishop, Botticelli to Luc Tuymans. It is at once wide-ranging and thoughtful, concerned with ‘what I’d loosely call the transmission, or even transfusion, of images from one poet or artist to another. Strange meetings, deliberate or fortuitous; overlappings; convergences.’

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• 15-04-21 •

an extract from M/W

A last look at the sleeping woman and he’s out the door. But he doesn’t go far, yet—just down the stairs to the next landing, in fact, where a neighbor answers his knock. He asks if he can borrow her car and she promptly agrees, but reminds him the turn signal doesn’t work. She offers her own solution: “I never turn left.” How much accommodation to what’s broken, we might quickly wonder, is too much? Cars are like us, abundant and complex, entirely of their age, often beautiful, evident in their diminishments, unmistakable in their ultimate breakdowns.

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• 17-03-21 •

In Conversation with Ana Mendieta

Here’s something I heard about hearts: the form may be an ancient abstracted representation of female genitalia, which might explain why love hearts feature so highly in the doodles of little girls; they are repeating a coded incantation to a power that is theirs, but which goes beyond them, and from which they are estranged.

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• 04-01-21 •

Carla Lonzi’s Self-Portrait

In 1969, the Italian art critic and feminist Carla Lonzi (1931-1982) authored Autoritratto (Self-Portrait) using the transcripts of interviews conducted with fourteen prominent artists living in Italy. Overlooked for many years, Autoritratto’s experimental unravelling of traditional art criticism has inspired a new generation of artists and curators. It was, however, Lonzi’s final work as an art critic; after its publication she renounced the art world, and co-founded the feminist collective Rivolta femminile.

Allison Grimaldi Donahue, a writer and editor, is currently working on what will be the (long overdue) first translation of Autoritratto into English. In October, Teresa Kittler met with Donahue to discuss Carla Lonzi’s legacy and the relevance of her work to anglophone readers.

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• 09-12-20 •

Small Worlds Collide

The main street which arrows down the hill in Tarlabaşı is being dug up, full of dust and rubble and overturned vegetable boxes, pock-marked like the moon. People pick their way through in a half daze as if waking from a dream. It will be replaced by wider walkways, which will try to cover up the memory of dispossessions and social injustices which have happened here. History revolves like grain in the mill but the sparks continue to illuminate rituals of violence. Özlem glides up the rubble.

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• 16-11-20 •

Estuario o Epifania

“Lui le aveva raccontato che un estuario è come un imbuto, proprio com’era quella terra dove stavano loro, una cannula di imbuto che portava chissà dove”.

In un luogo sconosciuto fatto d’erbacce e case sghembe, scorrono immagini di sogno e di solitudine, di speranza e di oblio. Come in Una settimana di bontà di Max Ernst, il mondo appare come un’anatomia tagliata da becchi affilati.

 

 

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• 11-11-20 •

Have We Had Enough of Experts

If The Imaginary Museum is an account of Eastham’s evolving sensibilities, it also makes a spectacle of his fallibility. This serves the larger theoretical point that critics are not always to be trusted in their judgements about art. Indeed, he goes so far as to give his readers the final say in all artistic matters, avowing that ‘you can decide to treat as art whatsoever you choose’, which goes some way towards explaining why Eastham is so coy about his own achievements.

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• 26-10-20 •

Bryan Wynter’s ‘Landscape, Zennor’

It rained heavily the whole week in Cornwall. Horizontally. It was coming through the ceiling of the RNLI shop in Penzance, collecting in buckets by the window display. The volunteers, seated by the till, sipped tea and chatted, as if the growing bulge above their heads posed no threat. The sheer volume of rain took me by surprise. I grew up in Cornwall but, having lived away for the past twelve years, I often feel that my connection with the area has been lost: I am no longer used to heavy rain.

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• 12-10-20 •

Dance of the Oryx

We can hear the low growl of felines and the clinking of chains; the stench of horse manure and piss fill the air. A giant over two meters tall and just as wide, with black and bristly eyebrows, a face painted white with lead, and a luminous, wide mouth, rides around on a unicycle. There are baboons dressed like sailor boys and a half-naked fakir stretched out on a bed of nails. A tiny woman plays the piano, encircled by eight tigers. Now and again she throws them chunks of meat, her yellow apron bloodied.

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• 03-07-20 •

Come You Masters

Goya says ‘one cannot look at this’, yet creates the print anyway. People about to die. People about to be shot down by rifles peering in at the right hand side of the frame. Rifles apologising for interrupting, but they must get on. Men pray. Men beg. Women scream, yet all are still about to die at the hands of the apologetic rifles.

I see everything is prepared. Her underwear laid on the bed, already out and waiting, her dress hanging on a hook. On the floor her shoes. On the table her jewellery, necklace and matching earrings. Everything decided upon. Everything where it should be and ready.

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• 26-06-20 •

In Conversation with Nina Holland

What is contained in a book can survive environmental and chemical impact as well as the negligence, politics, and changes of interest of human beings. Digital content will not be so lucky because it requires a person or a commercial interest to decide at the turn of every new technological generation that this particular content is worthy of being carried forward; it’s worth an update.

From my vantage point, that’s the very definition of endangered.

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